It can be our little secret, but admit it: You’re not that into Halloween. Maybe you have some post-haunted house trauma from your childhood that you still need to recover from or perhaps you think the whole premise of dressing up is a little lame, but something has changed this year. Whether your crush invited you to a costume party or you and your buddies discovered a really good drink deal at your corner party, you’ve decided to participate in this goolish day. Now you need a costume. But with all the desirable options already ravaged through at your local party shop and only a few days to think of an idea, you’re in panic mode. Breathe, dear reader, breathe. Allow us to ease your last-minute scramble with costumes you can easily assemble with things you already own. No tricks, all treats.
1. James Dean
We’d be lying if we didn’t tell you that most Halloween costumes for guys fall into the following categories: gruesome, nerdy, funny, or douchey. But where is the cultured, cool Halloween costume? Um, right here. Though his life was cut short, James Dean is still the epitome of a Hollywood bad boy. Plus, his Rebel Without a Cause ensemble is borderline iconic. So why not throw on your favorite bomber jacket — you know, the one we’ve been nagging you to get — and a pair of fitted jeans. If you have yet to buy a bomber yet (we’ll forgive you), there will most likely be a slew of inexpensive options lying around your local vintage store. For the finishing touch, slather on some hair gel to really nail Dean’s perfectly styled locks; the key is to have the back slicked down but leaving some volume in the front.
2. Risky Business
Sure, Tom Cruise’s iconic dress shirt and socks combination may be an overplayed costume for girls. But guys? Let’s face it: We barely see any dudes slipping and sliding around the bar in this costume. And, as an added bonus, you already have all the sartorial ingredients for this ensemble. If the length of your dress shirt is more risqué than Risky Business, do yourself a favor and sport a pair of solid boxer shorts or spandex running shorts. Trust us, you’ll be more comfortable knowing fellow partygoers aren’t getting a close-up of your ultra-tight briefs. But the secret to nailing this costume is all in the accessories. A pair of white, calf-high socks slightly scrunched down and your trusty pair of wayfarers will make Joel Goodsen himself proud.
3. Brawny Man
If you think about it, the Brawny Man is almost a modern-day superhero: He has an iconic uniform (Buffalo check flannel), a weapon he uses for good (paper towels, duh), and a nemesis (dirt, spills, and whatever germs encroach on innocent civilians’ homes). And the No. 1 reason we love the Brawny Man? His outfit is so easy to replicate. Simply pull your red and black flannel and jeans out of sartorial hibernation. Only have plaid of the blue and green variety? Simply steal your roommate’s shirt for the night or pick up your own at a low-end department store. Add your pair of hiking or snow boots to really capture the mascot’s woodsy vibe. On your way to the party, grab a roll of Brawny paper towel from your convenience store and leave packaging on for the evening. Grocery shopping and a Halloween costume rolled into one? We’re sold.
4. Cecil the Lion
While we don’t think the death of this famous lion should be the butt of anyone’s Halloween joke, we do think Cecil was a major news story. So why not respectfully pay homage to this feline with your costume this year? First, pick out button-down or T-shirt that is similar in color to a lion’s fur — orange, yellow, and brown are three great options — and couple with any pair of jeans. On your way home from work, pick up a brown eyeliner from your pharmacy. If you want to avoid a plethora of suspicious glances from the checkout clerk, borrow your girlfriend or roommate’s pencil instead. Create a lion face by drawing an upside down triangle on the tip of your nose and diagonal lines on your cheeks to represent whiskers. If you don’t have fiercely curly locks, you can pick up an unruly wig to act as a mock mane. Or you can leave your hair alone and pick up an angelic halo and a pair of lion ears from your local store to further push the Cecil spin on this classic costume.
5. President Kanye West
With the 2016 election rapidly heating up, you may find yourself surrounded by a sea of Trumps, Carsons, and Clintons this Halloween. But let’s not forget perhaps the most confusing (prospective) presidential candidate: Kanye West. As he so kindly told us at MTV’s Video Music Awards, he is not planning on “running” until 2020. Still, his unofficial announcement sparked a lot of attention from the media. So instead of whipping out a phony toupee this holiday, why not channel your inner Yeezus? The costume is simple: Throw on your baggiest apparel. That means your oversized T-shirt, jeans, and field jacket are all in the running, but stick with neutrals. The rapper never sports punchy brights.
And, of course, President West’s ensemble is not complete without a few stellar accessories: a pair of Adidas Yeezy Boost by Kanye West kicks (which can easy be substituted for hiking boots or any baller-approved sneaker), a gold chain, and an American flag. If you don’t have the last two on hand, they are easily accessible at your local party store. If you’re celebrating Halloween with your wife or girlfriend, turn this idea into a couples costume. With a polished (albeit tight) tweed skirt suit and a heavy dose of bronzer, your partner can be our future first lady: Kim Kardashian West.
6. J.J. Gites from Chinatown
Calling all movie buffs: This is your perfect Halloween costume. Famously portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the 1974 classic Chinatown, this costume is smart, creative, and tinged with nostalgia. While you may not have time to pick up a fedora, suspenders, and a flashy pocket square before the haunted occasion, focus on the essentials. To complete this look, all you truly need is a full fitted suit — ideally a brown or tan jacket and trousers as well as printed tie — and a pair of sunglasses.
Unless you’re living under a fashion rock, you most likely have both of these. And if you have time to pick up some extra accessories, go for it. What will really make the costume is mocking Gites’s iconic nose wrap. First, grab some gauze and medical tape from your first aid kit. Lay two thin pieces of gauze horizontally along the bridge of your nose and secure the fixture with a few pieces of vertical tape. The result? Major costume kudos and a lot of people saying, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”
Sure, this costume isn’t going to merit any originality points; however, creativity isn’t always at the forefront of your costume concerns in the eleventh hour. And lucky for you, a devil costume is classic enough to be a suitable choice for Halloween but not as overplayed as a cop or “Female Body Inspector.” For a frills-free costume, pair a fitted red tee with a pair of tight black jeans.
Have a pair of red chinos lying around? Even better. While some devils opt for face paint and temporary hair dye, go forth on your beauty regime with caution: The red can easily transfer onto fellow partygoers or your crisp white sheets post-festivities. But leaving the house without your pitchfork and horns is unacceptable. Available at most convenience or party stores this time of year — and cheaper than a full-fledged devil costume — these are an easy add-on to your look.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs